It was a beautiful morning on January, 2017. It had been a few weeks since the last time I took a ride on my Hayabusa. It’s like a fuel burning rocket that can do 0-60 Mph in an incredible 1.7 to 3.0 seconds, depending on the location, rider and tires. I was actually planning to postpone my ride, until I had a chance to do some maintenance on it, but at the last minute, I decided to take it to work. After all, it was a beautiful day.
Everything was going well. It was basically stop and go traffic. No high speeds. Just typical South Florida city streets bumper-to-bumper morning traffic. I noticed a driver in a small hatch-back was driving erratic. After a few minutes, it seemed like they were gone.
Then when I least expected it, the same car cut me off suddenly, invading my lane. Then the car in front of them stopped, so they had to stop. I had nowhere to go.
Luckily, I was able to swerve, and avoid a head-on collision. However, what happened next, was one of my biggest nightmares. This was not a bad dream. It was real life, and I was about to lose it. I down-shifted. I gracefully applied the brakes. Lost traction and corrected to one side. Avoided the first car. Got into oncoming traffic, and corrected back. Clipped the mirror of the second car that was in front of the car that made me start the sliding nightmare.
Then…lights out. When I woke up, I was on the ground. Where was I? Where was my motorcycle? What happened? I had pains, I have never before experienced my entire life. Strangers were surrounding me. I couldn’t stop screaming from the pain. Lights-out again. Second time I recover my senses, I was able to manage the pain a bit better. Still screaming a little, but now I knew what was going on. Kind of.
The paramedics were working on me. They asked me where it hurts. “My clavicle! My ribs! My right leg! Please, help me!” I said. “Am I going to die today?”, I asked. They said, “No sir. We’ll take care of you. You’re going to be fine. Try to stay calm.” Easy to say when you are not the one that is laying on the ground with no clue of what will be the long term result of someone else’s bad actions.
You may be wondering… “What did the person that created the accident say?”. Well, no one knows. They didn’t stop, and I was left to fend for myself. It’s ok now. I forgive them. Wherever they are, I hope they have a healthy and long life and never have to go through this nightmare.
After a while, they got me inside an ambulance, took me to the Emergency Room at the nearest hospital, and I went into surgery almost immediately. They had to work on my right leg. I had shattered bones and a broken ankle. They had to re-arrange everything, like a puzzle. Then they had to screw a metal plate to hold all the bones in place with 14 screws. The rest of my injuries would need to heal with rest and therapy.
Ok. back to how my new Tesla Model 3 impacted my recovery. After about 8 months with little to no mobility, I started walking. It was painful, but it needed to be done. I did all my therapy sessions, exercised at home, and was on a decent track to full recovery. But I started getting angry and depressed. I was tired of it. I wanted to quit. But I never did. The next phase started. I was better, but since there were many complications to do even the most basic things, my anger started getting the best of me. I didn’t want to go out. I wanted to stay in my house. What’s the point to go out if I can’t enjoy it.
About a year before my accident, I gave my deposit for the sight-unseen Tesla Model 3. It was the only thing I was looking forward to. I researched everything there was to know about the Model 3 online. The online forum, Model 3 Owners Club would always come up when I was looking for something new to learn about my new car, if I ever got it. Trevor, the forum founder and owner, was of great help. I was mostly a reader, not a poster. Eventually, I started posting my own questions. As I learned more, I started to provide answers. Not much though.
Fast forward to the year 2018, and the anxiety built up even more. My depression whenever I wasn’t reading about Tesla, Space X, or Elon just started to take a toll on me. I never really discussed it with anyone, but everyone around me, knew I wasn’t happy. They knew I was trying very hard, but I needed something else. Then, it finally happened. My Tesla account finally allowed me to configure my new car. I picked all the options I wanted (or that were mandatory if I wanted the car rather sooner than later), and gave my final deposit for the order. About two months later, I went to the Tesla store in Dania Beach, Florida, to pick up my Midnight Silver Metallic Model 3. I was like a little kid. I could barely sleep that night, in anticipation of picking up the car the next day.
The morning or May 29, 2018 I was a totally different person. No longer in a wheelchair, but using a cane to control my walking, that morning I decided to leave my cane. I was so excited, that I was walking almost perfectly fine. Just a few months before, in February, I met Trevor from the forums in person at a Cars and Coffee event. He flew in from Canada, and that’s when we met. I was so happy.
We took a drive-sharing service to the Tesla delivery center. Arrived early. The staff there was great. I had my family with me. I was wearing my infamous sun glasses. I had tears in my eyes, but no one noticed. I was so emotional that after so many years (I was dreaming of owning a Tesla since the early Roadster days), I was finally going to get it, but I was hiding it. At least I thought I was. Then, it was my turn. The store manager said “We are ready to show you your Model 3”. They opened the door to what I like to call “The Studio”. There it was. With a big red bow. The store staff started applauding. As if I had won an Emmy award. A dream come true. A Tesla. It’s mine. I loved it since the moment I saw it. I wanted to take it on the road immediately. I forgot about my ankle. I forgot about my leg. My ribs were healed. My clavicle was solid. My shoulder…well, it’s a work in progress.
But I finally had my car. It was a joyful moment. Almost instantly I felt my body reacting to the good news. My body was telling me “now you have to get better, you must enjoy this moment and everything else that comes with it”. I went over every inch of the car. It was perfect. Time to sign those papers and make it official. Once we were done, we said our goodbyes to the store staff, and went on our way. Wow! What a car. I had rented one about two months before I picked up mine, but mine felt better. It was better. It was mine.
Fast forward a bit over 6 months, and I have driven over 20,500 miles. I’ve been very active in terms of going out since the day I picked up the car. My first road trip was to Key West, with the car full with family and friends. Later, I did a couple more trips down south to the end of the Florida peninsula. I also went several times to Orlando, Florida, which is a couple hundred miles away from home. I love driving the Model 3. As a result, I have been a lot more active, some of the times, I am able to walk one or two hundred steps without much pain. I call that progress.
About three weeks ago, I drove from home Sunrise, FL to Philadelphia, PA. It’s a 1,200 mile trip each way. Last week, I drove from home to Los Angeles, California. I went to Silicon Valley, Fremont, Anaheim… I went to the Apple headquarters visitors center, and a few other technology giants. I even went to my work’s West Coast headquarter in Santa Clara.
So, you see, a Model 3 is not only “a thing to maximize enjoyment” like Elon Musk would say, it is also a healing charm. It’s probably the best car on the road, with only close competitors being from the Tesla brand. No one else gets even close. The Supercharging network makes long travel very easy, and I have met many people that I know will remain somewhat friends, for a very long time.
If you ever have any questions about the Tesla lifestyle (yes, it is a lifestyle, until it becomes a common thing), please reach out to me on Twitter @TesLatino or @rafaelsantoni, and I will do my best to answer any questions you may have. If you are reading this, I hope one day I get to meet you, and share experiences together.
Until then, take care. Stay charged.